Posted: July 9th, 2008 | By: Ann Gibbs
Professor Steve Virgil arrived in Winston-Salem this summer to start his work as the first Director of the Law School’s new Community Development Clinic. Virgil, formerly the Director of a clinic with a similar mission at Creighton University School of Law in Omaha, Nebraska, was the overwhelming first choice of the Wake Forest faculty after a nationwide search for the most qualified leader for this new clinical enterprise. He accepted the law school’s offer earlier this year and began immediately to develop contacts with local economic development organizations. The new offices of the clinic will be located in the “Old Wachovia” building in downtown Winston-Salem.
Wake Forest clinic students will offer legal services to non-profit organizations and to entrepreneurs who create new businesses based in low-wealth areas in Forsyth County. For instance, students will draft incorporation documents, employment agreements, and purchase agreements with suppliers and customers. Under Virgil’s guidance, the students assist their clients with business planning and negotiations, offering a range of transactional legal services to help new businesses (and new employers) get off the ground in areas of the city most in need of new jobs and new housing.
The Community Development Clinic is part of a larger effort by Dean Morant and the law school faculty to strengthen the connections between legal education and the practice of law. The law school is also exploring the prospects for externship programs, “capstone” courses for third-year students, and additional clinics.
The law school and University have invested the start-up funds necessary to begin this new live-client clinic. Professor Virgil and Dean Morant will devote time over the next few years to raise the endowment funds necessary to keep the clinic on a sound financial basis. Such funding from individual donors will make the clinic’s work a permanent part of the law school’s program.